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Bitstream BOLTs multimedia onto feature phones

More streaming media than an iPad! Cor blimey! etc

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Bitstream's BOLT browser now supports HTML 5 tags for streaming audio too, allowing for claims that a basic phone can now out-perform Apple's iPad when it comes to multimedia.

It's quite a strident claim, and one that only stands up within strict parameters - BOLT does indeed recognise HTML 5 tags for video and (now) audio streaming, as well as coping with Flash content, so within that context it's fair to say that a J2ME handset can deal with web-based media better than Apple's tablet. More importantly, for Bitstream, BOLT version 2.3 also supports cloud-based backup and better form filling - though who's going to pay for all that remains a mystery.

BOLT achieves its multimedia credentials by taking the processing off to its own servers, and only delivering the interface to the handset. This model is also used very effectively by by Opera Mini, though it carries with it a legacy that requires the provider of the software to maintain the requisite servers. Neither Opera nor Bitstream charge for their browsers that turns customers into ongoing cost centres from whom revenue must be extracted.

Opera plans to do that through advertising; injecting mobile-optimised advertisements into browsing sessions in much the same way Phorm tried to do with desktop browsing - only (hopefully) with the agreement of the advertised-to. Last week we asked to speak to Bitstream about how the long-term funding of BOLT will be managed, but it's been terribly busy and unable to talk to us.

The real money is in licensing the browser out to handset manufacturers - Opera did some good deals supplying a replacement for the risible Pocket Explorer on Windows Mobile handsets, but that opportunity is closing fast as the default browsers in modern handsets are getting pretty good.

But that's smartphones, and the vast majority of handsets are not smart at all, so perhaps there is some revenue in making better browsers for feature phones. If you can have a dig at Apple at the same time, that's all to the good. ®

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